So you’ve heard about this job or career called “voice over,” and you’re curious to learn more about it. You may know a little already because you know someone who does voiceover as a side hustle, and you’re interested in getting into it yourself. There are more voice actors than ever before. Because of the amount of work available today, producing quality content is essential. Perhaps it’s because we live in a very digital world, and working from home is appealing. More people than ever are getting into the world of VO.
It Starts With Voiceover as a Side Hustle
As a diverse, millennial, and contemporary voice actor, I got started in VO because I heard it was a good side hustle. It was the summer of 2018, and I had already worked at my Canadian government job for nine years. I had good roles at my place of work, but ultimately most of the positions were administrative. It paid the bills, but it wasn’t the most exciting job.
I pushed around papers and made a lot of spreadsheets, and after a while, most of what I was doing became mundane. I had begun to notice that many of my friends were picking up side hustles to make a little extra cash in their spare time. One friend had a side hustle as a model, another made beautiful cakes, another did eyelashes, and another micro-blading for eyebrows.
Before the Side Hustle Job
I was sitting at work one day completely bored and took out a pen and made a long list of potential side hustles. One that was interesting was teaching English to international students. And that was the one I chose. So, for two months in the summer of 2018, I taught English to Japanese students online. It was great. I enjoyed teaching English, and the students I met were very friendly. I even got to teach English to some famous Japanese soccer players. Although I enjoyed what I did, the money could have been better. After two months, I realized I’d rather be outside in the summer than sit in front of my computer.
So back to the drawing board! The following week I was at work again, sitting at my desk, downtrodden about my failed side hustle, and my phone beeped. A message had come in. My best friend Natasha Thompson said, “Hey, Girl, I heard of a cool side hustle. It’s voiceover, and you can do it from home. Here’s a website with more information; it’s voices.com.” And that was the text that changed my life – although I didn’t know it then.
“Voice over. Hmm. that does sound interesting.” I thought.
Research, Planning, and Preparation
I stumbled upon a commercial demo of a voice actress on YouTube 1-2 years prior as I was studying for college one day. Listening to her demo, I thought, “Wow, she is so talented. How could I ever do something like that?” But that was just a fleeting thought, and after a few minutes of imagining life as a voice actor, it seemed too overwhelming, and I went back to studying.
After seeing Natasha’s text, I went to the website she mentioned, with hundreds of freelancers highlighting their voiceover skills, and I was instantly intrigued. That evening, I raced home to tell my husband, and he advised me not to rush into anything but to take my time and research, as a job like this requires a commitment of money and time.
Turning Voiceover as a Side Hustle Into a Career
And he was right. Every year I was always getting into something new that would cost money and time. So between July and November of 2018, I took my time and learned everything I could about the voiceover industry. I researched how to get started, how much it would cost, what goals to set, and whether I should try this as a side hustle or a full-time gig.
By the fall of 2018, I was still very interested in voiceover and did some planning. We decided to wait until Black Friday to purchase equipment. We went to the music store for a microphone, music stand, and a pre-amp. I also ordered studio foam and a moving blanket on Amazon for sound insulation. I had also contacted voices.com to purchase their annual Premium membership, which was on sale.
We went home, set up the equipment (well, my husband did; I am not techy at all), and I tried my hand at my first audition. I had no idea what I was doing, but where there’s a will, there’s a way. I’ve mentioned before that if I could make my career all over again, I would have gotten coaching before jumping in head first auditioning. Instead, I explored how far I could take this with zero experience.
Eventually, it worked out for me, and I booked my first job one week later for a great company, and slowly but surely, things picked up.
Are You Interested in Voiceover as a Side Hustle?
Voice Over can be a great side hustle, but some factors must be met to succeed. Voiceover today is highly competitive, with many experienced actors booking regular work. They are skilled, have a coach, and incredible state-of-the-art studios. They have professional demos, direct marketing in place with optimized websites, and long lists of clients who are very happy with their work. So, the opportunities are there, but you only get what you put in.
When I started in VO, I was only on one pay and play platform; voices.com. I auditioned about 15-20 times a day and booked about 5-6 jobs a month for approximately $1000 USD. Those were my statistics. I had no professional demos or coaching, but I did fully complete a profile on voices.com so clients could find me quickly on their platforms. I would come home for lunch each day, do 5-6 auditions, and then do more after work. The additional income helped with the bills and funded the vacations we had lined up throughout the year.
The Jump to Full-Time Voiceover Talent
Deciding to make voiceover a full-time gig is what changed my business. I was laid off from work during COVID, and I had no choice but to make it work. That was when I had to put the pedal to the metal and dig deep to proceed with all the tactics at my disposal. I hired a professional coach, acquired a commercial demo, built a website, and created a marketing plan. The same month I received my commercial demo, everything changed monumentally. I saw a significant difference in my income within four weeks. I couldn’t believe it. That demo changed everything. It told my potential customers that I am a “committed professional voice actor,” Finally, potential clients took me seriously.
The Reality of a Side Hustle
I went from part-time to full-time millennial voice actor in a year and a half. That is a relatively quick trajectory from what I understand from other voice actors, but I trusted the process and believed it would work. Many successful voice actors only do it part-time and still hold a day job as a lawyer, doctor, or government official. They may want to keep voiceover as a side hustle so they can play and be creative without the pressure of earning.
It’s your choice. I started it intentionally as a side hustle with no desire to take it full-time until I had no choice. Plus, I enjoyed what I was doing and found it addictive. There’s always another opportunity coming your way: a new audition or a new client. If you don’t get this job, no problem, be consistent with your efforts, and another opportunity will come to your inbox soon. It’s always a fantastic feeling when you book a job!
How to Jump Start Your Voiceover Career
If you want to be successful, I recommend researching and planning with maximum effort. Otherwise, you’ll be wasting your time and money. Here are the items you’ll need to get set up!
- Set up your studio to sound as professional as possible
- Get professional coaching
- Have a professional demo made with a reputable producer
- Sign up on pay-to-play websites
- Get a website (voiceactorwebsites are the best loaded with SEO)
- Participate in direct marketing
- Audition, Audition, Audition for diverse jobs
This list can be daunting for most. Each month I have inquiries from friends or family on how to get started in voiceover. I tell them what to do and remind them to set small goals, and success will come. Your ability to be diverse will get you where you want to be.
Voiceover can be an outstanding side hustle if you do it right. Just take your time to get set up, trust in the process, and you can do it!